Featured Ingredient: Butternut Squash
Good gourd, it’s winter squash season. This is one of my favorite times of year to peruse the farmers’ market for the simple reason that I love checking out all the unusual gourds in various shapes, colors and weights.
Winter squash are a cinch to store, versatile in the kitchen and their nutritinonal benefits are great. Orange fleshed squash such as acorn and butternut are a large storehouse of beta-carotene. On top of being an antioxidant to help fend off those pesky cell-damaging free radicals, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body that helps with immune defense and good vision.
While many of the more popular squash varieties are now available year round, ‘tis the season to gorge yourself silly when local winter squash are ridiculously cheap and the dropping mercury makes them almost impossibly sweet for a vegetable.
These whimsical pudding cups using the flesh of butternut squash make a wonderful side-dish or a good snack to grab straight out of the fridge. I’m thinking they would be a fun addition to a Thanksgiving feast as well. The flavors became even better after a day. I’m sure you could use a wide variety of winter squash varieties with delicious results.
Butternut Pudding Cups
4 cups cubed butternut squash
1 1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 large eggs, separated into yolk and whites
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a microwave or stovetop steam basket, steam the squash until very soft. Remove from heat and mash until smooth; set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring milk to a slight simme. Whisk in cornmeal and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 1 minute. In a large bowl, mix together squash puree, cornmeal mixture, egg yolks, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. In a separate bowl, use an electric hand mixer or a whisk to whip the eggs until firm peaks form. Stir half the stiff whites into the squash mixture, then gently fold in the remaining half. Spoon mixture evenly among 12 medium greased or paper lined muffin cups.
Cook until puffed and set, about 25-30 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.